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« 'The 20th Terrorist' | Main | Irony of ironies: A friend of Iran counting on the sanctity of an embassy »

July 28, 2006


Christopher Taylor

I consider the US's support of anyone who claimed to be against communism the biggest error and ethical failure of the late 20th century. It was a blight we're still trying to clean up and repair to this day.

I opposed it at the time, and I oppose it now.

Frank Warner

I know the argument, but I think an even better argument can be made that, if we hadn't made some temporary deals with those relatively weak dictators, we'd have an even bigger mess to clean up today.

We allied ourselves with Stalin during World War II because we judged Hitler to be the bigger threat to freedom. We dealt with the lesser thugs in the Cold War because we judged, I think accurately, that Communism was the greater threat.

The problem wasn't U.S. opposition to Communism. The problem was Communism, which promoted an ideology of world subjugation. Had the Soviet Union not continued to push that dark agenda after World War II, the enlightenment of such areas as Asia and the Middle East could have begun so much sooner.

The United States supports a fully free world and, in fact, we see big benefits from a freer world, even if it means we have a relatively smaller part of the global economic pie. Democracies don't go to war with each other, so in a freer world, the U.S. won't be called on so often to intervene in bloody struggles. That saves us lives and money.

Fortunately, the U.S. doesn't have to support many dictatorships today, post Cold War. But in fact it does "support" Pakistan and Saudi Arabia because those dictatorships help us in Afghanistan and Iraq, and in the global war on terrorism.

I doubt any sane person would cut our ties to Pakistan or Saudi Arabia right now over their poor human-rights records. We do urge Pakistan and Saudi Arabia to reform their governments in favor of democracy, but considering the chaos around them, we understand how that liberalization might need time.

That's exactly the deal we made with others in the Cold War. You might argue particular cases, as in 1973 Chile, where I thought the coup was a blight on our record, principally because it was unnecessary. Allende's opponents should at least have waited to see whether Allende allowed the next election.

The again, recently declassified information shows Nixon and Kissinger were happy Allende was removed, but the U.S. had no direct role in his overthrow. Why did we step back? The Church hearings.

Christopher Taylor

This is where I get into trouble with conservative friends because I believe that in the long term, doing what is right is better than doing what is immediately expedient and seems most pragmatic. Call me an idealist.


It's nice to be idealistic but sometimes you have to make a decision between a bad option and a worse option.

I can't think of many worse options than those which would have subjected more people to Communism than already were. The US's unpaletable actions may have saved hundreds of thousands of lives from the deadly carnage of dictatorship, not to mention millions from oppression.

Of course in return there is still oppression. Unfortunately, I don't think people in general in many of these trouble spots will ever be mature enough to realize each time they dig themselves into a hole. But sometimes you can't just sit back and watch it all go to hell.

Frank Warner

There's nothing wrong with idealism. Keep your eyes on the prize.

But remember, you can't liberate the whole world at once. We push and pull one or two nations at a time, and even then, there is slippage.

Our dealing with dictators like Pakistan's Musharraf is like us sending out spies. Our people are dealing with bad people, but if you ignore those bad people, you're worse off. Either you've made another active enemy, or you're in the dark.

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